In a world of epics such as Game of Thrones and The Witcher, audiences and readers alike have become accustomed to something of a dark undertone when they dive into a new fantasy. The genre has become known for morally ambiguous anti-heroes, corrupt politics, and more than a fair share of harrowing violence. While those are some of my favourite qualities, Of Liars and Thieves is a refreshing return to a world of adventure, magic, and something a little more fun.
Raymara has known nothing but peace for one thousand years, mandated by the laws of the Goddesses after war laid waste to the Seven Kingdoms. None in the realm question their safety until one fateful night when a mysterious force unleashes five dangerous beasts of myth and legend, striking fear into the hearts of many.
Summoned from ink and paper, the beasts disperse into Raymara, trailing destruction in their wake. As stories spread across the realm of the beasts and their creator, fate brings together five unlikely companions, each hailing from a different magical race. Drawn by different circumstances, they embark on a quest to retrieve the beasts and their maker, hoping to restore peace and balance to Raymara.
Though their quest proves treacherous, the companions find clues to a larger threat at hand, one that could plunge their realm into death and destruction. As they journey across Raymara, navigating friendship, love, and betrayal, it becomes clear to them that what they believed to be a simple quest is a dangerous game of secrets and lies.
Forced to travel down an increasingly deadly road, the companions have only one choice – join the fight against evil or watch their world fall into chaos.
Of Liars and Thieves is the first installment of The Raymara Chronicles, as well as author Gabriela Lavarello’s debut novel. Elves, gnomes, witches, and more, this book has everything that fantasy fans love to see. Tonally, it feels somewhat reminiscent of The Hobbit, or perhaps The Chronicles of Narnia. There’s a certain C.S. Lewis quality to the world that I absolutely adore. While most fantasy worlds are grounded and gritty, Raymara feels more whimsical, with magic literally embedded in the castles and forest floors themselves.
That isn’t to say that the world is without darkness. Of Liars and Thieves stays true to high-fantasy with its high stakes, putting the safety of the entire realm in the hands of five unlikely heroes, each as different as the next. Truly, each of these characters have such distinct personalities, names, and appearances, and for this reason, I would say it is the perfect book for anyone wanting to dive into the fantasy genre. The world and characters are imbued with enough complexities to keep you hooked, without so much that you’ll find yourself confused, desperately rummaging through indexes and appendices.
Despite intense battles and heartbreaking betrayals, both the characters and I, as a reader, maintained a sense of hope throughout the entirety of the novel, something quite rare in most fantasy tales today. Even in the Young Adult genre, more and more stories seem to thrive in desperation and despair. This isn’t the case with Of Liars and Thieves. Though the title may suggest otherwise, there’s an uplifting element to this story, and above all else, this novel is about overcoming trauma and opening yourself up to love. True family can be found in the most unexpected of places, with the most unlikely people, and that’s what makes the dynamic of this group work so well.
With beautiful landscapes, breathtaking creatures, high stakes, and a fair amount of sass, this Young Adult novel is a fun adventure filled with the sort of whimsy and magic we don’t always get to see in fantasy. This story isn’t a punch to the gut, but rather, a breath of fresh air. Whether you’re familiar with the genre or not, if you’re looking to dip your toe into something fantastical, this is the perfect book for you.
Of Liars and Thieves releases September 7th, 2021. For more information on where to purchase, visit here.